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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Ideal Little Miss Revlon

Of the all the toy companies, large and small, that I've reviewed dolls from, I must confess that the majority of my favorites come from Ideal.  I've spoken often of my fondness for Crissy, and I've reviewed Tammy and Tuesday Taylor as well.  However, I've yet to review my Little Miss Revlon doll, who is without a doubt my favorite Ideal doll.  I call her Wendy, and she's made a few appearances in the past.  It's time she got her moment in the spotlight.  Miss Revlon came in several sizes during the second half of the 1950's, with the smallest version being this ten-inch version, referred to by the doll world as Little Miss Revlon (abbreviated "LMR").  These dolls aren't thunderously hard to find if you know where to look; Wendy was an antique mart find, for example.  The store had several Little Miss Revlon dolls, but they all had clouded eyes and/or green earlobes.  Wendy's ears were the least green so I chose her.  When I first got her she looked like this.
Cute dress, cute face, disheveled hair, no shoes.  A prime example of what I like to call a diamond in the rough, meaning that with a little work she could be beautiful.  And indeed, I think my Wendy is VERY beautiful.  All it took was a shampooing and the addition of a few accessories to set her right.
The woman who ran this store was delighted to see what she called "the store's best Little Miss Revlon" find a home.  She then shared with me a story of her own childhood, one where she and her sister each received a larger Miss Revlon for Christmas.  Each doll was decked out with a ring, earrings, a straw bonnet, and a fur stole...and those dolls were the only thing the girls received that year.  "That must've been a real bad year for Daddy," she reminisced.  She also reported that she and her sister were overjoyed to receive such finely dressed dolls, so much so that they didn't even want any other presents.  It was a sweet memory, one that I felt honored to hear, but it also made me think of how Mama and Daddy always bent over backwards to give my sister and me good Christmases with lots of presents.  When we are little we never stop to think about all the money that goes into such a feature, but I look back on all that now and I know that we were very blessed to be as well off as we were.  And we were by no means rich!

Alrighty, now that I've shared my memories I'm going to try and shed my adoration for this doll and view her with a more critical eye.  Hair first, as always.  Little Miss Revlon came in a small variety of hairstyles, but Wendy wears her hair down.  The ends turn under in a shoulder-length curl.
I had tied Wendy's hair back, but it made her look apple-headed so I let it down.  Apple-head dolls have their place in the doll world, but Wendy is NOT one of those!  By now it should be fairly obvious that Wendy has the same shade of blonde hair that a fair number of my vintage dolls have.  She's got thick honey blonde hair that's coarse and a little tough to restyle.
I like the color and style of Wendy's hair, but it's not particularly child-friendly.  It's wiry and stiff, and thus few other styles are possible other than the ponytail that I attempted.  It's also got some thin spots here and there, largely due to gaps between the rows of hair rather than poor rooting.
The closely rooted hairline helps hide these thin spots.
Wendy's head is made out of hard vinyl with painted features and inset sleep eyes.  Her delicately painted eyebrows, much to my surprise, match her hair very well.  The eyes are glancing ever so slightly to the doll's right.  They have both molded and painted eyelashes, and they USED to be a lovely shade of bright silver, but in the time that I've owned her they've clouded over.
I'd heard that a warm hair dryer will clear up those clouds, but given the reaction of some American Girl eyes to heat I'm a bit hesitant to try that with Wendy.  But then again, vintage dolls eyes were not constructed in the same way as American Girl eyes so they might react differently.

The rest of Wendy's face is made up with red paint.  She has a wide, slightly flat nose, rouged cheeks and full lips that are painted in a natural, neutral shape.
Wendy isn't smiling, but she isn't pouting or scowling either.  She looks calm and relaxed.  However, in this picture of her full face it's easy to see that her eyebrows are off-center...just like another doll I know
Tam's gorgeous Little Miss Revlon has also has cockeyed eyebrows, as does this young lady, so apparently this is normal for these dolls.  Some LMR dolls also have heavily painted cheeks; these are referred to as "high-color" dolls.  Wendy isn't one of those, and that suits me just fine.  Most of these high-color dolls are very attractive, but some look a little clownlike with their heavy rouge.  If it's one thing I had to learn the hard way about makeup, it's that less is usually more.

Like Barbie and any other vintage doll that wears metal earrings, LMR can get green earlobes.  Unfortunately, my Wendy is one of the unlucky ones; when I got her she had the remains of her old earrings sticking out of her earlobes.  Not only were the metal posts hideous, but they also did this!
Hmmm...I need to bust out the Q-tips and the alcohol for that dirt in there.  Anyway, Wendy still wears real earrings, earrings that I made and doctored with Super Glue, but as far as I know those haven't contributed to the green ear.  I know how to fix a Barbie with a minor case of green ear, but Wendy is constructed differently from a Barbie so I can't get inside her head.  If anyone knows how to conceal or fix a Revlon doll with green ear, I'd love to hear from you!

But why can't I get into Wendy's head, you ask?  Isn't her head hollow like Barbie's head?  Yes it is, but it also has a plug in the base of the head.
This neck connection provides a nice range of motion, but the plug presents a conundrum that I've yet to figure out.  LMR dolls had/have earring posts that are hooked at the end, so pulling the posts out is not an option unless you want to destroy her earlobes.  I ended up having to cut the original posts at the base, meaning that half the post is still inside Wendy's head.  I want those OUT of her head lest they stain more parts of her, but I have no idea how to get the job done.  So again, if you know how to fix this, give me a holler.

Wendy's large head, round face, and soft expression suggest a fairly young age, but her hair and makeup pull her out of the child category.  Her body is...well, it's definitely not a child's body, but it's not as developed as Barbie's is either.  Here's how her body compares to that of a child doll (Penny Brite) and that of an adult fashion doll (Barbie).
Wendy's body is moderately buxom and hippy, but her waist isn't as nipped in as Barbie's.  Her torso is a two-piece job and is strung with the same elastic cord that holds her head on.
Wendy is more lanky than Penny is, but she's nowhere near as lanky as Barbie.  Her arms are short with splayed fingers, molded creases, and painted nails...
...while her legs are thick and relatively short.  Again, she has some molded definition in the feet, plus painted toenails.
Poesability is not great.  Wendy's arms always stick out to her sides, so she looks like she should have some lateral motion in her shoulders...but she doesn't.  It's up or down for these arms.
Wendy can't sit very gracefully either.  Her hips are swivel-jointed as well, and her knees do not bend at all so she ends up like a bimbo on Quaaludes.
By contrast, Wendy's neck and waist are a little TOO flexible due to loose elastic.  Her default head position is tipped to the right and backwards a bit, and her back always arches back.  She can hold other positions if I force the issue, but this is usually how she stands after I've left her alone awhile.
Believe it or not, Barbie wasn't the first child's doll to debut with a womanly figure.  Little Miss Revlon wasn't either (I think that title goes to Madame Alexander's Cissy), but she predates Barbie by a few years.  She also provides an interesting contrast to Tammy, who was created by Ideal not to be uber-fashionable like Barbie and Little Miss Revlon, but rather to be a goody-goody alternative.
There's a little bit of resemblence in the faces.
I don't know about y'all, but to me this shift from LMR to Tammy seems a little hypocritical of Ideal.  One decade they're releasing dolls with trim waists and respectably-sized busts, and the next they're toning it all down and trying to make dolls "wholesome."  And keep in mind that both these dolls were marketed to the same age groups!  But then again, Wendy doesn't look much like Barbie either!  Both dolls are attractive, no question about that, but Wendy's face is not as harsh as Barbie's.
Their bodies have a similar shape, but are not the same size. Wendy is quite a bit shorter than Barbie is, with thicker, shorter legs and larger feet.
After studying Tammy a little closer I noticed a similarity between the two Ideal cousins.  Wendy and Tammy have similar arms.
Tammy's arms are longer, but her sister Pepper's arms are the same as Wendy's.
There are some subtle differences between Wendy's arm and Pepper's arm (Wendy's is shorter, paler, and a little thicker), but for the most part they're the same.  Not terribly surprising given the fact that both of these dolls are Ideal.

In terms of clothing Little Miss Revlon dolls are easy to dress.  Not only did Ideal supply their poppet and her larger sisters with a boodle of nice things, but LMR could also wear clothes worn by a similarly-sized doll called Miss Coty, clothes for Vogue's Jill and Jan (I love Jan's smug little face), clothes for Madame Alexander's Cissette, and a few of Barbie's things.  Even so, none of Wendy's items are tagged...or at least, none of what I own for her is tagged.  I have no idea where her striped dress came from, for example.  This dress is in reasonably good shape, but it does have a hole in the bodice, close to Wendy's right breast.
It's also got a snap that won't snap shut.  I have to hold the back of this dress together with a hook and eye.
And to top it all off, the skirt could use a good pressing.
I'm not going to bash this dress too much though; after all, I have no idea how long Wendy wore it before I bought her.

There were also plenty of seamstresses out there who made things themselves, and nowadays Etsy and eBay have handmade items as well.  It was Etsy that supplied this lovely green frock.
Well...Etsy and Mama supplied it!  Etsy had it, I loved it, and Mama bought it.  She got something nice for my beat-up Cissy doll ("Peaches") as well.  The shop that provided these dresses is apparently still open, but it's empty at the moment. 

The rest of my Wendy's things appear to be a combination of store-bought and mommy-made items.  They came in a box from Etsy (also a gift from my mother), and there were nine outfits packed in that box
Two ballgowns, one coat, one beach set, and five dresses.  The two red dresses and the white flowered dress appear to be homemade, and the rest look store-bought.  The three homemade dresses have some minor gaffes, but I find these imperfections charming more than bothersome.  The white flower-printed dress has an uneven skirt for example, and that made me wonder if it wasn't some little kid's first stab at sewing something pretty for her dolly.  The blue gown is see-through, and if not for Wendy's petticoat one could see her flowered skivvies.  The sheer fabric makes me wonder if the blue dress was not meant to go over something, maybe a long white dress or something made out of lace?

As for crap made by me, I'm perfectly capable of sewing myself, but I've yet to do it for a doll.  However, I did supply Wendy with her pearl jewelry.
It seemed like such a shame for my doll to have a pretty wardrobe but no jewelry, so several years back, shortly after I bought Wendy, I devoted an afternoon to making her a set of pearls.  The necklace was originally too heavy in front, so I shortened it...a little too much!  Now instead of a pearl necklace, Wendy has a pearl choker!

Of course some things must be bought rather than made...LIKE SHOES!!!  I hate owning a doll that has lots of pretty things to wear but nothing for her feet, and since I bought Wendy barefoot I had to put up with it for awhile.  Etsy to the rescue once again; I think these shoes are the real deal.
They're strappy white high-heels with bows molded on the front.  These can also come in black, red, and pink, but imagine how silly pink or red would've looked with some of these outfits!

Tangent time.  In the past I've spoken of my fondness for a single brand-name piece for certain dolls, but as of writing I have nothing for Wendy that is tagged "Ideal."  I am by no means a brand snob; I just like to have things that were meant for a doll.  There IS stuff on eBay, but it's more expensive than I can afford at the current time.  Indeed, my favorite of the available dresses costs more than I paid for Wendy!  In addition to that, Ideal didn't make my favorite dress in Wendy's size anyway.  For those who may not remember, Revlon was and still is a makeup company (I'm wearing Revlon eyeshadow right now, in fact).  Back in the fifties they had three colors of lipstick:  Kissing Pink, Cherries a la Mode, and Queen of Diamonds.  The larger Miss Revlon dolls got dresses that were themed after these lipstick shades, and each set of dresses had something that set it apart.  Queen of Diamonds dresses tended to run a little higher in price than the others due to the usage of fabrics like velvet (REAL velvet, not velveteen) and brocade, and they were usually accompanied by rabbit fur stoles.  Kissing Pink dresses often had little flocked hearts, and Cherries a la Mode dresses often had flocked cherries and straw bonnets.  I say "often" because not all of those dresses had hearts or cherries (dress in the link is a striped Kissing Pink dress), but a lot of them did.  Anywho, for some reason I find these Cherries a la Mode dresses particularly appealing, though all three lines had some fabulous dresses.  Unfortunately, not only are these dresses quite expensive nowadays, but for some stupid reason Ideal didn't make them in Little Miss Revlon's size.  Maybe it would've been too expensive to scale down the size of those cherries and hearts to make it worth the effort?  I dunno.  However, I do know that the whole situation has made me want a cherry-printed dress for Wendy.  I have a sewing machine and I know where to find a pattern...now all I need is the fabric.  Hancock's DID have it, and I'm kicking myself for not buying some now because I had the money for it and the cherries were the perfect scale for Wendy's small measurements.  I can still find similar fabric, but Hancock's closing threw a major monkey wrench into the process.  Or I can save my money for a Cherries a la Mode dress for Peaches instead. 
Peaches is sort of my red-headed stepchild.  I certainly don't mean to treat her that way, but things for Wendy are much less expensive, and thus it's been a long while since Peaches got something nice and new.  I love her current dress, but I'd like to get some other things for her too.  The awesome thing about Cissy dolls is that they can wear some of the larger Miss Revlon dresses; indeed, the dress she now has was intended for a 22-inch Miss Revlon, one of the biggest.  So I may try to get a cherry dress for her...and some shoes too!

Alrighty, I've bloviated enough.  Time to sum it up.

*Eyebrows are askew, though not terribly so.  Lots of these dolls have this quirk.
*Hair is thin in places
*Eyes are clouded over
*Ears are stained
*Elastic is loose

*Hair is thick enough that the few thin patches are not visible
*Well-painted; not overly made up like some
*Face is approachable, not spacey or haughty or vampy or sickeningly sweet
*Easy to dress
*Can share clothes with multiple dolls

Little Miss Revlon had most of what Barbie and Tammy had back then.  Granted, she didn't have a ton of friends or a car or a beau, but she had a pretty face and lots of lovely clothes to wear.  Plus, she did all that without looking like a complete biatch (like Barbie) or like a goody-two-shoes (like Tammy).  She's very sturdy, being made of soft but tough vinyl and plastic, and she has a lot of clothing options.   In short, I love this little doll.  I love her face and her build, I love the air of innocence that she projects, and I love her cute little clothes.  I don't love her floppy stringing, or her clouded eyes, or the thin parts of her hair, OR the fact that I can't yet get into her head to get those earring posts out, and I want to fix those stains on her earlobes.  But most of those problems are age-related and fixable.  I admitted in the beginning of the post that I'm biased towards Ideal, but even if I hated Ideal Little Miss Revlon would still win me over.   To me she represents a long-gone era when life was simpler and more innocent, when little girls (and boys too) would take a relatively simple toy and let their imaginations run wild instead of plopping onto the couch with an iPad or or pitching a fit over losing a game on Xbox.  I think that may be what I love the most about my Wendy.

Love to all,


  1. Oooh, a vintage Cissy! You know, I bet she would be easier to sew for than Miss Revlon. ;) I like your Little Miss Revlon too, but I have two modern day Cissy dolls in my own collection. People talk about Barbie being unique since she was a "lady doll" as opposed to being a "baby doll" but other dolls like LMR and Cissy don't get a lot of attention, despite the fact that they were also high-heeled dolls with mature figures.

    As far as the cherry fabric, have you thought about checking for that on Etsy? There are a lot of fabric sellers on there, with fabrics from all over the world.

    There was a manufacturer that used to make green ear removal stuff for Barbie. Removezit, I think? If you find a product like that, you could always try emailing the store and asking if their product might work for your doll.

    1. You're definitely right about sewing for Cissy versus sewing for Little Miss Revlon. I've noticed, with my admittedly lacking sewing skills, that using a larger pattern usually is easier. When I'm looking for ready-made stuff though, it's easier to find things for Wendy than it is for Peaches. Would you believe that I paid twenty bucks for Peaches, by the way? She's in really rough shape, all discolored, knee broken wig coming off. She was around a smoker, I think. She needs a lot of work, but I wanted a Cissy doll desperately so I grabbed her anyway.

      Believe it or not, as much as I love Etsy I never thought to look for cherry-print fabric there. That is a fabulous idea, though.

      Yep, I've heard of Remove-Zit, and I've seen it used on Barbie dolls before. Never tried it, but it's worth a shot. It might help Peaches a bit too. I appreciate the tips; your comments are always fun to read!